Yes, using a neti pot may seem a little silly, but these teapot-looking mechanisms actually work wonders for nasal congestion. Some people swear by them that they get relief very quickly, especially without medication.
But there’s more to these seemingly simple devices than just pouring water for a cleaner, less cramped life. It’s important to know how to use it correctly and safely to avoid bigger problems than when you started.
And for what it’s worth, the World Health Organization reports that rinsing your nose with saline does not prevent COVID-19.
However, here is how you can start reaping the benefits of safe neti pot use. Ear, nose, and throat specialist Raj Sindwani, MD gives us some tips.
What is a neti pot?
A neti pot is a device that pushes the flow of a saline solution through your nasal passages, clearing accumulated mucus and allergens trapped in your nasal passage. Why salt water instead of just water? It helps prevent irritation of your nasal passage.
What are the types of neti pots?
As the use of neti pots has grown over the years, so have different nasal care tools that offer similar treatment in slightly different ways. There is the standard teapot version, from which this device got its name. This version relies entirely on gravity to force the flow of solution through your nasal passage.
Among the most popular types is the squeezable bottle design. While this option gives users a tighter flow of solution through the nasal passages, you don’t want to squeeze too much or you risk causing a big mess.
There is also an “automatic” version that uses suction to regulate the flow of water through the nasal passage. These auto neti pots are easier to use and less messy, but they can be quite expensive and require a little more maintenance for safe cleaning.
Benefits of using a neti pot
There are several advantages to choosing a neti pot as your sinus treatment method:
- It completely rinses the nasal passage.
- Removes backed-up mucus.
- Limits congestion and improves breathing.
- Relieves sinus pressure.
- It improves conditions without the side effects of over-the-counter medications, such as drowsiness or stimulation.
It’s always best to consult your healthcare provider about the best course of action and whether a neti pot is a good choice for you. It’s also important to make sure you use it correctly.
How to use neti pot?
Your neti pot will push the flow of saline solution out of your nasal passages, clearing any accumulated mucus and allergens from your nasal passages. Saltwater helps prevent irritation of your nasal passage.
The tool for your standard teapot-shaped neti pot works quite simply:
- Prepare the salt solution by mixing the salt pack that came with your neti pot with warm water and pouring it into your neti pot.
- Position yourself above a sink. You will be pouring water from your nose to do a minimal amount of cleaning.
- Create a seal by placing the tip of the spout inside one nostril.
- Tilt your head forward-looking at the sink and lift the neti pot at an angle, sending the saline solution into your nasal passage.
- Gravity moves the solution out of your nasal cavity and another nostril.
- Let the solution and excess mucus drain from your nostril, blow your nose to clear the nasal passage.
- Repeat for your other nostril.
Tips for using your neti pot
While there are a number of benefits to using a neti pot, there are important tips to keep in mind to ensure the best possible results and avoid unnecessary problems from regular use.
You can make your own saline solution at home, but the packs that come with your neti pot (as well as the packs sold separately) are great because they offer the perfect amount of salt. Too little or too much salt can cause irritation in your nasal passage.
As for the water you use for the saline solution, this is Dr. It is part of the three great paths that Sindwani proposes.
Do not use tap water
Use distilled, filtered, bottled, or boiled water at room temperature – never touch the water. Tap water may be unfiltered or unprocessed like distilled or bottled water and can cause infections.
Dr. “Nasal irrigation has potential side effects,” says Sindwani. “Always use a clean watering device and a clean water source.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends taking at least one of the following actions to reduce your risk of infection:
- Boil. Use water that is boiled for one minute and left to cool. At altitudes above 6,500 feet, boil for three minutes.
- Filter. Use a filter designed to destroy some water-loving microbes. It may read “NSF 53” or “NSF 58” on the label. Filter labels that read “Absolute pore size 1 micron or less” are also effective.
- Purchasing. Use water labeled as containing distilled or sterile water.
- Disinfect. Chlorine bleach used at the right level and time will act as a disinfectant.
Do not use cold solutions
You should never use a cold solution in your nasal passages—especially if you are irrigating your nasal passages after sinus surgery.
Dr. “Some of the solutions we prescribe after sinus surgery should be stored in the refrigerator,” Sindwani says. “You must allow the solution to come to room temperature before using it.”
If you’ve just had sinus surgery and used a cold solution, you may develop bony growths called paranasal sinus exostoses (PSEs) in your nasal passages. Dr. Sindwani and his research team discovered that these growths can develop inflammation in the sinuses or lining of the sinuses of people who have had surgery for chronic rhinosinusitis.
Dr. “It’s about the solution being cold, not necessarily what’s in the solution,” Sindwani says. “These growths can develop when the cold solution comes in contact with the surgically opened sinus cavities.”
PSE looks like small polyps or cysts, but they are actually bone. They’ve only been found in the sinuses after surgery, but it’s still important to use fluids at room temperature.
Dr. “Newer drugs are being developed that don’t require refrigeration,” Sindwani says. “This will make nasal irrigation easier and safer.”
Clean your neti pot thoroughly
It is important to thoroughly disinfect and clean your neti pot, as well as the water you use, to avoid infections. Rinse the irrigation device with safe water after each use and leave the device on to dry completely. During the coronavirus pandemic, it is recommended to clean your neti pot after each use.
Dr. “I also recommend using hot water and antibacterial soap to clean your neti pot every day,” Sindwani says.
Don’t forget to change your neti pot periodically as well. Get a new one every few months, especially if you use it regularly. If your child’s pediatrician advises your child to use one, keep a separate one just for them.
Risks and side effects of using neti pot
For the most part, neti pots are safe to use as long as you follow the directions correctly and keep your neti pot properly clean, especially with saline solution.
Only use saline packets typically included with your neti pot or sold separately for neti pot use. Using too much salt water mixture can cause irritation in the nasal passage, so follow the directions.
And as mentioned earlier, if you don’t clean your device thoroughly, you risk putting bacteria back into your nasal passage for additional infection.
Also, be careful about overusing your neti pot as this can cause irritation in the nasal passage. If your problems persist after a few days, contact your healthcare provider.
Should you use a neti pot?
Patients with sinonasal or lacrimal duct abnormalities or who have had sinonasal surgery should talk to their doctor before using neti pot. Bleier added that anyone who has had a nose, eye, or brain injury should approve the use of neti pot with their doctor before starting nasal irrigation.
“Patients with chronic conditions should also use neti pots in moderation. “This is because nasal mucus performs a beneficial function and helps protect the body against infection,” he said. Our mucus is an important defense against infections.
If you are using a neti pot, be sure to add the buffered salt packet to the water, which can be sold with or separately from the neti pot.
“Salt packs are specifically designed to provide optimum salt concentration and pH,” Bleier says. Said. If you experience burning or discomfort, try warming the solution slightly above room temperature.
The bottom line
While using neti pot is not advocated as a treatment for snoring or sleep apnea, it can help improve symptoms of nasal congestion. Theoretically, this could have a slight effect on easing or reducing snoring. It is unlikely to have a significant effect on sleep apnea because the condition often involves other tissues of the upper airway, such as the tonsils, adenoids, and soft tissues of your mouth and throat.
However, neti pots can be useful in making other treatments such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) more tolerable. If your nose is blocked, the compressed air delivered by CPAP may not be as effective. For some people, the use of decongestants and nasal steroids may help. Likewise, using a neti pot can help you breathe and sleep better.
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